Sunday, August 25, 2013

Indian Updates: Exotic shark fins soup industry comes under environment ministry's radar (23 Aug 2013)

Exotic shark fins soup industry comes under environment ministry's radar

NEW DELHI: Exotic shark fins soup industry will have to observe certain dos and don'ts in India under a new government policy. Union environment ministry has prohibited "the removal of shark fins on board a vessel in the sea" so that the law enforcers can monitor illegal hunting of banned species of sharks.

The policy prescribes that any possession of shark fins that are not naturally attached to the body of the shark would amount to "hunting" of a Schedule-I (protected category) species which attracts punishment under the Wild Life(Protection) Act.

"The policy calls for concerted action and implementation by the concerned state governments through appropriate legislative, enforcement and other measures", said the ministry in a statement issued on Friday.

It said, "With a view to stop the inhuman hunting of sharks and to enable the enforcement agencies to monitor the illegal hunting/poaching of the species listed in Schedule-I, the environment and forest minister Jayanthi Natarajan has approved a policy for prohibiting the removal of shark fins on board a vessel in the sea".

Sharks, Rays and Skates play an important the role in maintenance of the marine ecosystem like tigers and leopards in the forests. India is known to be home to about 40-60 species of sharks.

However, the population of some of these has declined over the years due to several reasons including over exploitation and unsustainable fishing practices. Therefore, 10 species of sharks have been listed in the Schedule- I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, in order to provide them the highest degree of protection.

"Due to high demand of shark fines in the shark fin-soup industry, it has been reported that the fins of the sharks captured in the mid sea are removed on the vessel and the de-finned sharks are thrown back in the sea to die a painful death.

"This has not only resulted in in-human killing of large number of sharks and in this process, but also has further decimated the population of listed species. This practice prevailing on board the shipping vessels has led to difficulties in enforcement of provisions of the law as it becomes difficult to identify the species of sharks from the fins alone, without the corresponding carcass, from which the fins have been detached", said the ministry.

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